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NIKE GOLF MEDIA PRESENTATION
December 3, 2007
KELLY TILGHMAN: Good morning. What a great day to be here in Port St. Lucie at the PGA Learning Center. Thank you all for coming. We have a lot in store. I'm here on behalf of Nike, Kelly Tilghman.
Nike as you know is the leading sports brand in the industry. Couple that with the fact that it has the single most recognizable athlete on the planet and you have quite a one-two punch. We're here today to talk about a couple of other one-two punches that get you a lot of distance and accuracy off the tee, and that is to come.
We're going to do so many great things today. We're going to look at a new fitting system. You've had a chance to catch a glimpse of it behind you there. We're going to introduce you to the latest technology on the tee. The world No. 1, Tiger Woods, is here to give a personal demonstration. He will also be taking your questions today and giving you, I'm sure, some very thought-provoking answers.
It is my privilege to be here just because Nike had the most wins on TOUR this year as far drivers are concerned. They are really spearheading a cause here. They're a growing force in the golf industry. 13 PGA TOUR wins, K.J. Choi, that familiar sound off the tee with the driver and the SUMO, two times on the PGA TOUR, internationally he grabbed one, as well; Trevor Immelman just captured a win overseas; Tiger Woods, of course, won seven times this year, including a major championship, and the inaugural FedExCup.
So there is a lot of ground to cover today, literally and figuratively as we watch him blast balls off the tee. I'd like to introduce someone right now who's very special to the program, used to be a member of our Golf Channel team and is now a growing force, as well, in the industry with Nike Golf. Her name is Cindy Davis. She is the U.S. General Manager for Nike Golf.
CINDY DAVIS: Thank you, Kelly, and thank you for taking time out of your busy Golf Channel schedule to be here. Appreciate that. We're excited to be here. I think some of us at Nike Golf were actually just chatting and saying that we're on to something. If you have an event that you invite Tiger Woods, you get this great weather, people are going to show up. So thank you for being here, and on behalf of Nike Golf, we welcome you.
We're not only excited to be here because of the weather but also we're excited to be here because this is a phenomenal facility, the PGA Learning Center, and we have our friends at the PGA of America to thank for that, and their wonderful staff have been an absolute delight to work with.
We have the CEO of the PGA of America Joe Steranka, and thank you, Joe, for rolling out and opening the doors for us to be here. We, of course, at Nike Golf value our relationship, as you know, I think it goes without saying, with you, the organization and the entire membership. So thank you for having us here.
Along with Joe, we also have some other dignitaries from the PGA of America. We have the president Brian Whitcomb; we have the vice president Jim Remy, who's also a Nike Golf staff member. You'll hear from him shortly. And another board member Frank Gumpert, so thank you all for being here and supporting us.
Along with those folks we have our president of Nike Golf, Bob Wood, and Bob is really credited for being the driving force and inspiration for establishing Nike Golf as one of the leaders in the golf industry, and that all in just a short decade. I can tell you, when Bob moved over from a long-time career at Nike over to Nike Golf, he brought a lot of very powerful Nike assets, one of which that we're going to talk about today, which is the Nike mindset of innovation.
Innovation really is the core of everything we do, and we have something that we call the Nike Maxims at Nike. You may have heard us talk about that before. It's the 11 truths that we live by as a company. The very first one says, "it's in our nature to innovate." Innovation is part of who we are. It's been the driving force for Nike's success. It's at the heart of everything we do at Nike Golf, and we're going to talk about innovation and two specific innovations we are launching today.
But to give you a sense of how innovation is part of the Nike Heritage, and it's been the foundation from which we at Nike Golf have shaped a lot of the direction we have gone with at the company, take a look at this Nike video.
CINDY DAVIS: I think that gives you a sense of sort of the spirit and the commitment we have at Nike towards innovation, and it's really in the DNA of Nike Golf, as well. If you get a chance, there are three displays in the back, and you'll see two of them actually are great examples of innovation at Nike, and really those kind of things serve as inspiration for us at Nike Golf in thinking about the golfer and what we can do for them.
The first one is Nike+, and for those of you who are runners, I pretend to be, and I have this. It's awesome. It's a collaboration we did with Apple where your running shoe communicates with your Nano iPod and tells you how many miles you've run, pace, calories burned, all while you're listening to music. Download it and you can be part of an on-line running community. A global success for us at Nike.
The other one is Nike iD, and for those of you who fashion yourselves to be product designers, you can go on-line and customize your own Nike product, so it's your Nike. Same thing there, very outstanding success.
So that kind of innovation mindset we today are going to unveil in our interpretation with Nike Golf. And it's going to be, as Kelly referenced, our Nike Golf 360 fitting system, full bag fitting system, first of its kind in the industry. So it fits from driver to lob wedge, takes care of those gap yardages when you don't know with wedges, you've got that gap yardage issue, even helps you determine what you should put in your bag between hybrids, irons, every other product. Very innovative technology. You're going to hear about it in a moment.
The other innovation we're launching today, and I'm flanked by it, are two new drivers. This is the third generation of the Sasquatch SUMO family, second of the SUMO franchise, and those of you remember, SUMO stands for Super Moment of Inertia, so we've got the SUMO2 5900, for those who want to hit it long and straight, and then the SUMO 5000, for those who want to hit it long and with shape.
So our interpretation with innovation, it's our nature to innovate, it's our maxim, and today you're going to hear about the Nike Golf innovation, so thank you for coming and learning more about this.
One last thing before I move off the stage, I'm going to bring you -- I introduced him as the vice president of the PGA of America, but we know him as a member of the Nike Golf family, and that's Jim Remy, that's been part of the Nike Golf staff for years now and resides in -- I think he's happy to be here because he traveled down from Vermont where he's the general manager, vice president and general manager of Okemo Golf and Country Club. Jim, I welcome you to the stage.
JIM REMY: Well, good morning, everyone, and first let me thank Cindy and Bob for inviting me to be here today. It really is really nice to be involved with Nike and to be down here in Florida, especially when it's snowing. I called my wife this morning and told her where the shovel was, and I think she'll be out shoveling. I think we're going to get 18 inches or something overnight tonight, so I'm really, really glad to be here with you.
Cindy and Bob asked me to come up and just speak a little bit about PGA members and their involvement with Nike and my role as a staff member. I've been a staff member with Nike for the last couple years, and I'm really proud to say that I am. For the previous 22 years I was a member of another company staff who basically the company got sold and it was a time for change, and we looked around and I talked to a lot of different companies.
You know, I found out that Nike, although it is a mega-company, a giant company, it really is the smallest large company I've ever seen. I got to know Mike O'Donnell from the professional relationship staff and Cindy and Bob, and found out that this company really did bring itself down to a really small area and is really trying to help PGA professionals to make money in their golf shops and to work with innovative products to bring the best forward.
In the PGA of America we are all, 28,000 of us, pretty much affiliated with different companies. That's the nature of this business. Right now Nike has made great strides over just the last few years, not only in research and development but in innovation and new products, trying to make products that players can hit better, hit straighter, hit longer and have more fun playing the game. And I can tell you that as a PGA professional, that's what's most important to me because if they have products that they can enjoy the game and play better golf, they're going to play more golf, and we're all going to benefit from this game, whether it be PGA professionals teaching more lessons or PGA professionals selling more product or manufacturers selling more product. I think that's where we're going with this.
You know, what's happening in the industry today, along with my friend and the president of the PGA of America Brian Whitcomb, we as PGA members are trying to bring this industry together the best we can. We really want to take the lead on bringing this industry together as one and working for the betterment of the game because if we improve the game and we make it more fun and rounds increase, we will all prosper, and yes, even you'll have more stories to write about. So we're really excited about it.
I'm happy to be involved with Nike. I'll be around if anybody has any questions after. We're very excited to have you here. I know as a PGA member, just as a PGA member, we're very, very proud of the PGA Learning Center and very proud of the PGA Golf Club right down the road. Brian headed up a great renovation project over the last few years. We've updated it and made it up to today's standards. It's ready for your play. I hope you get a chance to get out there and play this great golf course and use a Nike golf ball, I guess.
But we're glad to have you here. We're proud of this facility and we're very, very happy to have a gentleman coming to see you in a little bit, who by the way happens to be a four-time PGA champion and the No. 1 player in the world and a Nike -- someone I know I'm very, very proud to have myself aligned with through Nike, Tiger Woods. It's going to be a great day. I hope you enjoy it.
Again, I want to thank Cindy and Bob for the opportunity to be involved with Nike. It's a great company. We all support companies in this business, and I happen to be very, very proud of my relationship with Nike.
I'll be around later if anybody has any questions or whatever. I'll be glad to answer them. Stay warm down here. I hope I can stay for the rest of the winter. Thank you very much, and I hope you enjoy the day.
Normally when you think of SUMO, at least back in the day, you thought of an oversized man wearing a diaper held together with safety pins going after another oversized man wearing a diaper rolling around on the floor. That's not the case anymore, especially in the golf industry. You think of these two beauties right here, the SUMO 5900 and the SUMO 5000, and right now I want to invite someone up to present these clubs to you and get your look at them, Gidge Moody. Welcome, Gidge.
GIDGE MOODY: Thank you, Kelly. Good morning. So I hope everybody is doing well. It's very nice to see some old friends again. It's always a pleasure coming down here to Florida. It's always nice leaving Portland when it's a little rainy, and I talked to my wife yesterday and the gutters are completely filled with water, and three or four inches were expected yesterday and another three or four today. So like Vermont, we're having some of our own issues up in the Portland area.
But today it's really a special day. It's always fun introducing new products to all of you, and it's always fun, especially when the innovations keep moving forward and we're pushing it to make the game better for so many players. Today we're going to talk about the two new drivers that we're seeing here, the SUMO2 5900 and the new SUMO 5000. We're going to talk about the effect of MOI.
There's been a lot of conversation about MOI. A lot of people aren't really sure what it stands for, what it means, but we want to make sure that you understand why we focus on it so much and why we believe that it's very important.
The other thing we want to talk about then is the drivers themselves, the 5900 and the 5000. I'll also talk briefly about the new SUMO2 fairway wood, which really you're going to see at the PGA show. We won't do much conversation today. And then I want to talk just a little bit about the performance that we see from improving the MOI.
But first a little bit of history, and Cindy alluded to it earlier. What's really special is that a few years ago we introduced the Sasquatch driver. What was special about this driver for Nike is that it was an evolution into the 460 realm, and we were one of the first companies to achieve 460. We made two versions, the 460 and the 460 Tour, which Tiger has played through his career over the past few years, so we're very pleased about that.
It wasn't just 460 that was special, it was the power bow that was put on the back. The reason that was significant is because it was a demonstration of where the weight was repositioned. It was a very, very strong communication to both the retailer and to the consumer where we put the weight.
Well, then last year we had introduced two new drivers. One was another SUMO, the first SUMO 460, and the second was the original SUMO2 driver, the original square that we've brought out.
Now, the original SUMO was about 4900 MOI and the SUMO2 was about 5300 MOI. Again, a big evolution because we evolved the power bow, and that evolution of the power bow allowed us to increase the MOI. That also allowed us to make the shape of square and to really put the weight where we really needed it most to make it as stable a product as possible, and that's one thing that was very, very special was we developed two separate performances from these. We didn't just develop two different shapes with the same performance. Our goal was to separate the performances so we'd meet the players' needs a lot better, as well as the retailers' needs to try and fit the players much better, and that's where the SUMO2 was very stable and the SUMO was very forgiving but yet more workable so you could control the shot shape even more.
This year we've had the pleasure of introducing an entire SUMO line, and it all surrounds forgiveness, MOI, ease of performance and distance, and the entire SUMO line as we see up here, the hybrids and the irons we introduced to you a couple months ago, and now we're bringing to you the drivers and a brief glimpse at the fairway wood.
Well, first I really want to talk about the significance of MOI because I think it's very important that we understand the significance and why we spend so much time on it. There are a few questions up here that I'd like you to ask yourself and hopefully we can answer throughout the day. One is why is MOI important just in general? Two, why should Nike Golf engineers even care about MOI with all the other things that make a golf ball move? Three, how does it really benefit the player? Four, how does it benefit the retailer from knowing about MOI? And five, what is the relationship between MOI and our engineering staff in our overall product philosophy?
Hopefully I'll answer most of these questions during the presentation, but if I don't get to it, please stop me on the range while you're trying the products, or Don Reardon, who's joined us from Fort Worth today, and he'll help answer all these questions for you.
First, the significance of MOI, basically depending on the height of MOI, or the larger the number, the more stability you get. The more stability you get, the limited twisting that you get on off-centered hits, so it stays stable at impact. So it can be a good thing to some players. It can be a detriment to other players. I'll talk about that in a minute.
As we get more stable, we get more accuracy, so it's again a bigger benefit to higher handicap players as well as a lot of TOUR players. Cindy mentioned K.J. Choi, and even TOUR players want to set up and they want to hit the ball just straight. Some players do want to work the ball, and that's the difference that we're talking about between the drivers.
And then overall distance. As you get a more stable environment, you get a greater energy return back to the golf ball. As more energy is returned from the club back to the golf ball, we inherently get more distance. These are part of the building blocks for Nike Golf, and it's not just MOI but it's a multitude of things that MOI is just a part of.
The square geometry that we're talking about, really it's overall geometry which helps position the center of gravity as well as the MOI. It inherits the stability of the golf club, which is good depending on what the player is looking for. Some define stability and accuracy, again, as the ability to carve the ball into the fairway. Some define stability and accuracy as the ability just to line up and hit it straight.
Now, what you're going to see here is a demonstration of what we're talking about at impact. First is the SUMO 5000, and what you'll see, these are off-center hits on the toe, that's about 16 degrees of open or twisting at impact. Now with the SUMO2 5900, you'll see at impact that the driver twists a lot less, about six degrees less. That means that there's more energy transferred back to the ball. It also means because the driver is more square at impact we're going to get a straighter shot.
Now, this is from behind the ball at impact. Here's a traditional shaped driver that we see. Notice the amount of twisting at impact. That happens every time we hit a golf ball. It's pretty impressive to see the violence that a golf club goes through at impact. You notice the ball went off to the right, as predicted.
Here's the SUMO2. Again, you're going to see violent twisting at impact and the ball will go off to the right but not nearly as much. This is the benefit of squared geometry with high MOI and with the CG in the far back position.
So the overall effect that we see with the drivers is about 14 yards, 15 yards of dispersion off to the right with the SUMO2 and our traditional drivers with less MOI. This is the important factor here. A lower MOI we get more twisting and the ball goes farther to the right.
The same initial thought goes for the fairway woods, and generally what we see, even though we have the ground to get in the way, is with a squared fairway wood, and that type of geometry we see about 10 yards of dispersion versus the 20 yards of dispersion with a lower MOI.
So with that, we're introducing today, as I mentioned before, two new drivers and the glimpse of a fairway wood, the 5900 square, and that really means for us, very simple, straight and long. So squared means straight and long and round means workable and round. It really depends what the player is looking for, and players on all levels are looking for that type of performance that we can fit in them.
The 5900, what is that about? As I mentioned, straight and long. It's a beautiful new driver for us. We got up to the 5900 by expanding the MOI and expanding the design. You'll notice that it's thicker than the original SUMO2. You'll notice a different sound when you hit the ball. You'll notice that it's very active off the face. You get a lot of great distance and power.
There's also another question around square that people have been asking, and that really surrounds the market, is square dead. Is square geometry beyond round really a dying entity?
What we've seen from some of our data over the last few months or over this year is that square geometry or geometry in general is a growing entity in the business. It has not slowed down at all. It is not a fad. It's something that the players are seeing a performance difference and a benefit, and they're starting to buy it, and that's why we continue to innovate around this realm.
Then there's the 5000 driver. Now, the 5000 driver, we purposely named that from the 5900. That was to show and communicate the ability to work the ball versus stability and straight and accuracy because again, there are players that are looking for that type of performance out there, so we wanted to clearly demonstrate that. Again, a beautiful-looking design.
So round is designed to be workable. It's got Diamana shafts in it, a new Diamana Yellow Board shaft that we've designed for both the 5900 and the 5000 with the Diamana Blue platform and shape on it. The main difference that by flex, we've changed the weights. So your X shaft is 73 grams, your R and S shafts are 54 grams, and your senior flex and your women's flex are now 55 grams.
Why did we go to that length of separating the weight so much? Well, it's because all those players require different feel. Obviously you've got different club head speeds, and to maximize the performance for all those players with their slower and higher club head speeds and maximized feel, the benefit comes from the shaft weight. So we've really focused often that and we've delivered a very nice product with the help of MRC, Mitsubishi Rayon, excuse me.
So what's the overall benefit that we see from this? Well, as we can see from the slide up here, as we have the original SUMO2 on top and the 5900 on the bottom. As we can see, the center hits in blue are relatively about the same distance from that. But if you notice the toe hits in the burgundy, there we get a significant jump in distance. That's where I was talking about that energy return coming back. We also get a positive response on the heel, as well, where we get a significant energy return there.
That is a huge benefit of MOI. I don't know many players that really can't benefit from a golf club that offers so much across -- off the face. I know I hit it off-center quite a bit, and I know a lot of friends that hit it maybe slightly off-center every now and then, but even slightly off-center there's a tremendous benefit. And with the SUMO 5000, a very similar effect. Even though it's 5000 and much more workable, even over our original SUMO, we still have improved the toe and heel hits significantly. But the main difference is versus the 5900, it's significantly more workable. So with that I'd like to thank you very much for your time today and we'll see you out on the range.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Gidge Moody will be out there to answer any questions you have, as he said before. Violent twisting at impact, not familiar with that (laughter). I know some of you guys are. It's all relative to who's hitting the ball. Very exciting stuff.
Next we're going to talk about this 360 fitting system, and it is not going to guarantee that you hit the ball in every direction, it's going to guarantee that you hit it in the direction you want to hit it by perfecting the clubs to your swing and your specs, and to talk about that, we're going to welcome James Thomas.
JAMES THOMAS: Real quick, I'll just show a video, just an overview of our custom fitting cart and the solution that we have there, which is a good cue and lead-in for the rest of the presentation.
JAMES THOMAS: So we'll see the Cart later. We haven't perfected the hovering aspect of the Cart yet, something we're working on very hard in Fort Worth. We've got some of the Servo connections down.
Anyway, I'll talk to you a little bit about custom fitting. This was really an initiative project for us and how we develop a custom fitting solution that uses all of our product lines and is meaningful to the consumer and also the retailer. And as Gidge mentioned, the 5900 and the 5000, but the custom fitting also involves fairway woods, hybrids, SUMO, SUMO2 irons, wedges, the full gamut of our product line.
So our fitting goals when we're looking at this project was to develop the best full-bag fitting, meaning from driver to wedge. What is relevant to the consumer? What's going to make him play better golf? We need to develop an easy-to-use component system so the retailer was happy with us so that made his life easier, he had everything at his fingertips, and we wanted to incorporate technology to elevate the fitting experience.
What can we do as engineers and as things that we use in our TOUR shop when you're fitting people like Tiger and the rest of our staff? What can we learn from them and what can we apply to the normal, everyday fitting?
So some of the things that we kept in the back of our minds as we're going through this process is the consumer experience. Fitting is more than just looking at your lie angle and your length. Certainly we can do that, but relevant to the consumer, I have all these options in my bag, and I don't know, should I hit a fairway wood, should I hit a hybrid, should I hit a hybrid, should I hit a long iron. Consumers have a lot of options, more options than they've ever had, and they need help determining what is best for them in their bag, and that's what 360 fitting is all about is a full-bag fitting.
We believe that the said configuration can lead to overall improvement of scores and your average consumer to play better golf.
So as we look at the 360, our baseline custom fitting philosophy, there's a lot of things that you learn when you start a fitting. We like to fit with a driver first, actually beginning with a player questionnaire, what is the consumer looking for, what are they looking to get out of their golf game, what are their needs? And then moving into driver fitting.
We'll go into great detail on the range, but as you move into driver fitting, what can I learn as I move forward from driver fitting to fairway wood fitting and from fairway wood fitting to hybrid fitting? What are some of the key variables that I can learn and key on and bring forward those through the entire fitting? If I'm fitting someone like Scott Symoniak, who's going to be helping me later on the range, and I find that he has a low launch and a high spin, that's probably something that's going to dictate the rest of the fit, as well. He's not going to miraculously be a high launch, low spin guy in his irons. It could happen, but it's not probable.
So then as we go from fairway wood fitting to hybrid fitting, hybrid fitting to long iron fitting, where do you start your set? How do you hit a hybrid versus a 3-iron? How many hybrids should you carry in your set? Do you need a hybrid at all? There's certain players that hybrids aren't beneficial for, and how does the fitter know when to switch gears, more irons, less hybrids, more hybrids, less irons?
Then once you have your set defined, moving into wedge fitting, gap fitting analysis, how many wedges should the player carry, should he carry one, two, three, four? How much room does he have left in the bag based on the rest of the fit? So it's about incorporating the whole bag and elevating the golfer's bag, giving him less decisions on the golf course and giving him more tools to play better golf.
One of the other key variables, we mentioned technology and developing this fitting system was the launch monitor and how can we take launch data and learn as we go, and that's where the 360i fast intelligent fitting software comes into play. It really keyed off with drivers at first. When we look at starting someone with a driver and baselining them with a 101/2 stiff driver, regardless of who it is, and learning from that one variable, and then within six drivers, putting six drivers together and going through that fitting process, 18 shots total, we can come up with a fitting recommendation of what's their longest driver going to be and what driver offers the most control.
Our goal was to give the most options, both to the fitter and to the consumer to give them the confidence that they're going to take the best driver away that fits their game. Some players are looking for control, some players are looking for distance. Some players are looking for a little bit of both. Our goal is to give them that option, and 360i does that.
Also when you're looking at conducting a lot of fittings, the software actually takes you through the full bag fitting of irons and wedges, categories of that data, and keeps it as a record for the fitter so that if he sees 20 people in a week and this guy comes back two weeks later, then he has an opportunity to pull his records up by name and either continue a fitting or move him into retail and get him exactly what he needs.
The gap fitting analysis, and we'll see this also outside, is the balance between where your driver starts and where your fairway is, and you see this green area where we actually highlight the recommended slope of where your club should fit, and then as we start plotting each one, and you look at this green dot low on the bottom, that's your 3-iron, then you see a horizontal line, that's your first hybrid. That pink line is a little bit small. But you can see this player hits their hybrid a little bit better than a 3-iron, so it's very easy and very graphical to be able to show the consumer that you're a 20-yard gap between your hybrid and your 3-iron.
The software really helps solve the consumer's ease, put them at ease to know what they need to have in their bag.
Again, back to the Cart, so then we put this all together, you have a component system that has over 80 shafts, over 50 club heads, so how do you manage that? So the concept of a mobile fitting system with cases and quivers has to be modular, has to be easy to use. We came up with the case and quiver concept. So if you're fitting drivers, I reach down in, I pull out my driver case, I pull out my quiver of shafts, I'm ready to go. When I switch to fairway woods, separate case. When I switch to irons, separate case, different quiver.
It's very versatile for -- this is the consumer -- our consumer being the fitter. It makes it easier for them to do their job. They get somebody that walks in the shop at 3:30 on a Friday, hey, can I get fit for a driver? They grab one case, one quiver, they can go to the range. They don't have to bring the whole Cart out. It's about versatility there.
As I mentioned, Scott and I will be on the range doing fittings later, answering any questions you have relative to the presentation. Thanks so much.
KELLY TILGHMAN: As we all know, there are really only a few things that can get people like me and my fellow members of the media out of bed this early in the morning, and that's a free breakfast, coffee and doughnuts, and a chance to go one-on-one with Tiger Woods. 61 PGA TOUR victories, 13 major championships, seven times a winner this year; the PGA Championship in sweltering heat, he was a specimen that week; the TOUR Championship, he owned the place and captured the inaugural FedExCup.
He's a guy who demands perfection with his clubs, and it speaks volumes to his relationship with Nike. As he continues to tweak his equipment and update his bag, it's going to be exciting to find out what changes are in store for 2008. Without further ado I'm going to bring him out right now. I'm going to open up the floor and go one on one, we'll try to keep these questions as pertinent to Nike as possible because that is the platform that provided him today. That is the reason he is here. Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome the world No. 1, Tiger Woods.
How are you?
TIGER WOODS: I'm good.
KELLY TILGHMAN: You had an incredible 2007 season. I mentioned the numbers right there, and that's just seven highlights in a season filled with them. Could you put your year into perspective for us?
TIGER WOODS: Well, this year probably I would describe as a polar opposite of last year, not necessarily because of what I did on the golf course but what happened off it, and I think that's been the most incredible thing is that everything I did on the golf course, it gets put into perspective real quick when something happens last year, and then with Sam this year. This is the coolest ride ever.
KELLY TILGHMAN: I know she gripped a club recently. Has she gripped a Nike driver yet?
TIGER WOODS: It's a little long. I've been practicing at home a little bit this past week and she's been out there watching me hit balls. It's interesting, she shakes it every time I hit a shot. She gets excited, like this could be a good thing. She's never going to beat me, though (laughter).
KELLY TILGHMAN: Always the competitor. You joined forces with Nike Golf in 1996. We're approaching the 12th season here, what a run. Why are they so innovative in the industry? Why are they the leaders you choose to be with?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it all starts from the top. Phil Knight, he's the one. He's the one who pushes all of us. What he has done just with the brand itself and then with his attitude, it's spurred us on in golf, as well. Obviously when I first came to Nike Golf it really wasn't Nike Golf. We weren't a leader in the industry, we weren't pushing the envelope, we weren't as focused as we needed to be, and that all changed, thanks to Bob Wood and all the guys at Nike Golf got it turned around, and here we are.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Here we are, the Nike One Platinum ball, the choice of yours, you play the blades, Sasquatch driver, fairway woods. Talk about how involved you are with getting your equipment right where you want it to be.
TIGER WOODS: Well, if it's not going to help my game, it's not going in the bag; that's just the way it is. I've been involved for every single process of it, from tweaks to shaping the irons to shaping the woods to obviously constructing the golf ball. I need to have it do certain things, and if it's not doing it then we have a problem and we work through it.
That's been one of the greatest things about working with Nike is they've allowed me to use my feel and use the things that I know about the game of golf that then they can translate it into numbers. I can only basically tell you by feel what the ball does or how a club feels, but it's actually been a pretty neat relationship because I've learned so much, obviously infinitely more than they've learned from me. But it's really allowed me to play to a different level because obviously now I can make tweaks from a numbers perspective, which I never knew even existed.
KELLY TILGHMAN: I could imagine or understand why you would be reluctant to change anything, considering the streaks and the runs that you go on with the equipment that you have, incredible stuff. I guess it begs the question have you tested the new drivers yet, the new fairway woods, the SUMO2 5900 and 5000?
TIGER WOODS: I have. I have tested all of it, and it was just like the last square. I hit it straighter, there's no doubt. I hit it straighter, but I enjoy working the golf ball and almost need to for the length that I hit it. I just found a little bit more of a difficult time putting the ball into some of the doglegs because the ball would just go too straight, which is great for all the amateurs out there. You hit it straighter, which I did, and I hit it a little bit further, as well. Everyone who's obviously tested the square and the new one finds the same thing.
KELLY TILGHMAN: So I guess therein lies the answer. What would you tell a consumer as to why they might want to go with these clubs?
TIGER WOODS: Well, you hit it longer and straighter. That's like the greatest combo you could possibly have. Not too many amateurs out there are going to be trying to hit two-yard draws or three-yard fades and change your trajectory by six, eight, ten feet. That's not what they do. But for them -- for most of the consumers that don't play golf all the time, that don't do it for a living, there's nothing like hitting it longer and straighter.
KELLY TILGHMAN: I'd love to get your opinion on this new 360 fitting system, how close you are to it and how much it's going to help the average golfer.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it's been great because it's all about getting the equipment to fit you. You don't have to fit the equipment, and I think that's how I learned how to play golf. My dad was ardent about getting the equipment so that I didn't have to make any type of setup adjustments or even swing adjustments just because the clubs were too long or too short or too heavy. And that allowed me to get my fundamentals better and develop them I think more sound at an earlier age, where a lot of the other kids didn't have that luxury, didn't have a person in their life that believed in that.
Well, that's basically what I've always grown up with, and now the amateurs get to experience what we get to experience all the time on TOUR, have the equipment fit them. It's amazing how much further the guys are hitting the golf ball, how much better they're playing because the equipment fits them. It's not like the old days with the persimmon driver where if the face wasn't quite right you'd kink it on your knee, and that was that. You don't have to do that anymore. You have a driver built for your swing, your setup, and off you go.
KELLY TILGHMAN: So note to self, hitting yourself with equipment doesn't work anymore.
This is your opportunity to ask Tiger questions that may be burning in your mind. I'll open up the floor right now.
Q. You talked about the square driver. Can you talk about the ball a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: Obviously I like an all-around golf ball, one I can play in the wind, one I can use on hard and soft conditions, and on top of that, one that works with all 14 clubs. A lot of the amateurs and a lot of the consumers out there, they really don't need to have that type of detail. If they hit the ball longer and further, they're going to love it. They don't want the ball to stop.
I want my ball to go a specific number, and that's one of the reasons why I think I've stayed with the golf ball I've been playing with.
And then I think it'll be interesting to see how the market goes, especially in our TOUR industry, if the USGA changes the rules on the grooves. It'll be interesting to see if the guys stick with the firmer cover golf balls or are they going to go back to a little softer ball.
Q. The only non-Nike club in your bag is your putter. Do you ever foresee using a Nike putter?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I travel with all backups, and obviously my backup is a Nike. But my putter has been pretty good to me (laughter). I've won a couple tournaments since -- I put it in play the Byron Nelson of '99. Yeah, 12 majors with one putter is not too bad.
Q. There's one thing that I don't quite understand. If you have a square-faced driver, you can hit the ball quite straight. Why can't you close the club face slightly at impact to make it draw and open it slightly at impact to make it fade?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think, one, the driver being designed to hit the ball straight, you have to make big adjustments. Well, I feel like I have to make big adjustments to curve the ball either way. Instead of making finite changes and then swing path or the shape of it, what you want to do with your hands, what I want to do with the golf ball, you have to make bigger adjustments. Making bigger adjustments with the driver means that you've got to make -- you start tending to make bigger adjustments with the rest of your clubs. I feel like I've got it dialed in to how I like to play golf.
Is there a time where, yeah, I could see myself using a square driver, yes, but I haven't found one that I can quite work as easily. It's designed to hit the ball dead straight, which it does. I hit it longer and I hit it straighter. But working the ball around doglegs, that's one of the things I found was a little bit more difficult for me.
Q. One of the things they've put down with the square driver is great sound. What was your reaction to the old sound of the other square and what's your reaction when you hear the new one? We all knew when K.J. was on the range.
TIGER WOODS: The first one I think was good and bad. It was good in the sense that it was eye-opening. It got your attention. It brought awareness to what we were doing. But also people laughed at the sound, as well, so I think that would be the bad part of it. But the functionality of the club was far superior to anything else out there, and I think that's why a lot of the consumers did buy it, even though we had issues with the sound.
Audio-wise that's been fixed, and the functionality of the driver has gotten even better, which is even more scary.
Q. Last year at The Masters when you broke your 4-iron there was a lot of talk about somebody running in and getting you an extra one and bringing it out. What sort of extra equipment do you take with you when you are at a tournament and how likely are you to maybe switch something in between rounds?
TIGER WOODS: No, no one brought anything out. When I go to tournaments I always bring a backup putter, wedges, fairway woods and driver, and they're always sitting in my locker. I don't really carry a backup set of irons. I don't really foresee myself breaking any irons.
But my wedges are slightly different for different conditions, different grasses, different bunkers, things like that. And then obviously my 2-iron, I've got a couple different 2-irons with different lofts, one for like a British Open, one for normal tournaments. My fairways woods are slightly different lofts, depending on how windy it is or carry distance, what I need for the week. And then driver, always carry a backup just in case I crack it.
Q. In the last few years with all the technological changes that have been going through, how much do you change your clubs when you take one or two or three out of your bag at a time, and what is your philosophy on not wanting or wanting to make a bunch of changes with your equipment?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I change wedges probably a little more frequently. The amount of practicing I'm doing on my short game, the amount of bunker shots I hit, I'll wear down my grooves pretty quickly. I change my full set of irons probably nine, ten months. I started hitting -- because of the nature of my warmup sessions and the nature of my practice sessions, I tend to practice or warm up with -- I go sand wedge, 8-iron, so my 8-iron gets a lot of pounding. And then my 7-iron, 6-iron, 9-iron seem to be like practice clubs. I'll eventually start hitting some hot balls. The grooves will start getting a little worn, just the nature of the amount of balls I hit.
Q. How has technology elevated your game through the years? Could you talk about that a little bit?
TIGER WOODS: Well, the game has changed so much. I mean, from -- my first tournament I ever won was in Vegas. I remember playing against Davis Love in a playoff, he used a persimmon driver, so time has changed even in my era. It's amazing how the standard of golf clubs has gone from 431/2 to now 45 and 45+ in length. Everybody had steel shaft; now no one has a steel-shafted driver. The drivers back when I was growing up were I think smaller than the 3-woods nowadays.
Things have changed. Things have gravitated towards the average golfer and has made the average golfer play golf better and easier and more enjoyable. I think that's why people are actually probably shooting better scores than they used to, because obviously the game of golf has become a little bit easier. But it's still hard.
Then again, golf courses have become designed harder, a lot more difficult now. Bunkers are deeper, golf courses are a lot longer than what I ever grew up playing. I remember back when I was young, it was like a long par-4 was 420 yards. That was a long hole. Now in every U.S. Open there's a par-4 over 500 yards. That's just the way it is; it's changed.
Q. You once said that Mo Norman and Ben Hogan were the two guys that owned their golf swings and you wanted to be the third. As you seek to be that third individual that owns his swing, where does equipment fit into that equation?
TIGER WOODS: Well, obviously you have to have sound mechanics and you have to have a golf swing that's repeatable day in and day out, but having equipment that obviously fits you and fits your personality. There's no way that Hogan could have swung with Mo Norman's clubs and vice versa. I could never swing with Jack's clubs and he couldn't swing with mine. Everyone's equipment is going to be slightly different.
But it's finding that equipment that enhances your skills and how you believe you should play. That's the trick of it. And having the availability of all the Nike staff here to help me along the way, as I said earlier, helped me understand numbers.
I understand feel, but I didn't understand the numbers behind it. They've shown me just a ton of detail how I could get better and they've enhanced that. They've enhanced my ability to understand how to fix things. That's why I said, with my backup clubs I have variances in style of play because I didn't understand that before. I would just do it with my hands. But now equipment allows me to do it, as well.
Q. Any thoughts of putting a hybrid in the bag?
TIGER WOODS: I can still hit my 2-iron halfway decent.
KELLY TILGHMAN: I'm always looking forward to the reaction on that question.
TIGER WOODS: You know what, I can see that happening because in my teens I used a 1-iron, in my 20s a 2-iron, and now as soon as I turned 30 I put a 5-wood in, so obviously 40 will be a hybrid or a 7-wood. Senior Tour will be some kind of 9-wood or some kind of 11 thing (laughter). Maybe my bag will start looking like Allen Doyle's or something.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Belly putter on the way?
TIGER WOODS: Belly putter, cross-handed saw grip (laughter).
Q. You've said many times that you love playing links golf courses and you enjoy shaping the ball and moving the ball around. Can you ever see a time where -- I mean, the game is going to become so much a better of kind of perfect equipment, perfect mechanics, that you won't need -- obviously you do more with the golf ball, with your golf swing is what I'm trying to say, than the golf club, and that will always be the case do you think?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, definitely. The golf ball and obviously construction of the golf ball and the golf clubs allows you to hit the ball so much straighter than ever before, especially on mis-hits. I've hit some of my -- the persimmon driver that I grew up with, I bring it out every now and then, and I hit it probably only 10 or 15 yards behind my driver. But when I mis-hit it, it's like hitting 3-iron out there, and it goes absolutely nowhere. There's the biggest difference.
But shaping the golf ball now is not like how Trevino used to shape it or Chi-Chi used to shape it, both ways. Shaping the golf ball basically means changing trajectory now because the golf ball goes so much straighter.
It used to be if you drew a ball, you drew it early, it was never late, and then it would fade and fall right. Now if you notice it draws and straightens out or fades and straightens out, so the game has changed. I think maneuvering the golf ball now is basically changing trajectory and playing that way.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about how your place in Jupiter Island is coming along and maybe when we can expect to see you in the neighborhood?
TIGER WOODS: They're slow down here (laughter). I'd like to be down here now, but it's taking a while. I'm sure construction will take longer than what they say. As soon as I can get down here, I'll be down here.
Q. Are you looking towards this being a future home for your family?
TIGER WOODS: There's no doubt. That's one of the reasons why we chose this area. It's a beautiful area. I grew up near the ocean, so did Elin, and we're basically right on it. I think it's just a great area to live. And also with the schooling system, which I never thought of before, but they're things I've got to think about now, and that's changed. Obviously the schools they have in the area are second to none.
Q. When you were a kid and your dad was fitting you, so to speak, with different clubs and that sort of thing, did he have that kind of knowledge? Did he get it? Did he go out and acquire it, or was he just one of those kind of equipment guys that wanted to know as much about it as he could?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think I got that from my dad, a little bit nerdy in that sense. He felt he was average build, 5'9", his arm length, and they did a ratio, did measurements and did a ratio between what someone would be at his height, with his length of club with all the clubs, and then at my height, my length of arms and with my length of clubs, what that would be, and did the whole ratio and came out with certain numbers and length of clubs.
As I grew we would add extensions in there, but as I told dad that would throw my weighting off, had a counterbalance effect to it. We only would do that basically every half inch I would grow, add a counter balance to it, and then we'd have to reshaft them. So that's kind of how we did it. He created this whole ratio thing that worked out, and I didn't have to make adjustments where I saw the other kids did.
The only difference between what's available now and what I grew up with was he had X shafts. Well, X shafts cut down to this length is like a quintuple X, you know? So I had to generate all my speed, all my power myself. I didn't have any help with the shaft. Nowadays kids can have lighter graphite shafts that actually will play very similar if not identical to what we play as adults. That would be the only difference between how I grew up and how the kids are growing up now.
Q. Just out of curiosity, when did you stop doing that system with your dad?
TIGER WOODS: Probably 13.
Q. This is the longest break of your career, I think. How do you feel right now, mentally and physically? And also as it relates to the clubs, I'm sure you put them in the closet after The Presidents Cup. How long before you took them out, when did you miss them, how did it feel when you started swinging again?
TIGER WOODS: I put them away right after, and I didn't basically do anything until this past week, however long that is, a month and a half, two months, whatever it is.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Is that the longest break for you?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, it was the longest non-forced break. 2002 I obviously had the knee surgery then and was out.
Yeah, it's been absolutely great to put them away. It's interesting when I -- this has always been the case with me when I come back. First day, I hit it like a god, okay? Next day I hit it like a 5-handicapper, third day is like an 18, and then the next week or two I try and get back to hopefully a zero-handicapper. That's kind of the progress.
I don't know why it's like that. I always start off hitting it great and then have this immediate falloff, start thinking about my game and it goes all to pieces and then I've got to build it back up again. So it's kind of fun.
Q. What do you think this will do for you going forward, next week at your tournament?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's the freshness. That's one of the reasons I don't play as much as a lot of the guys do. I enjoy being mentally fresh. This time I got a chance to work on my body and get it stronger than I've ever had it, which is fun, and I haven't put on any weight, which has been great. I've leaned up a little bit. I've never had an off-season. I've never taken an off-season.
You know, most guys gear up during the off-season and get their bodies ready for a season and then hopefully maintain it and have a little bit of a falloff throughout their season.
Golfers for some reason since we play all year-round, we're always in a continual maintenance phase. You never get a chance to make big gains. Well, I finally got a chance this off-season and it's been fun. I'm looking forward to getting back out and competing. This past week I started really missing getting out there and trying to beat people. Anybody at Isleworth who wants a game, we'll go out there and play, and hopefully the cash goes my way.
Q. You talked a little bit about the shafts, but how often would you change your shafts compared to the actual clubs and how important is the shaft for your game?
TIGER WOODS: That's a very good question. I have played exactly the same setup in my irons since I was about 14, 14 and a half, X-1s tipped a quarter. I haven't changed in 17 years. Irons have been exactly the same. Driver shaft is obviously different, 431/2 to now 45-inch graphite, but I haven't changed a thing in my irons.
It doesn't mean I haven't tried. I've experimented with other shafts, but I've got this innate feel now built in for all these years what has been working for me.
Q. Kind of a follow-up on you moving here eventually. Certainly people in the Palm Beaches would love to see you maybe play in the Honda Classic. What conversations, if any, have you had about playing this year and if not this year maybe in the future?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I haven't planned out my schedule for next year yet. I've been enjoying this off-season. It's been nice having an off-season. After my tournament, Target, I'll start looking at my schedule and where I want to play and how I need to get ready for Augusta and see where everything falls.
Q. What are your iron specs? Are you two degrees up, and are you making any changes to your equipment this year?
TIGER WOODS: No, same irons as of right now. I just put a backup set in because towards the end of the TOUR Championship and Presidents Cup I started hitting my 8-iron a little hot. It was almost like basically a 71/2 iron, so I had to get that set out. But as far as changing anything, no, I have not found anything yet.
Q. The USGA thing with the V-grooves, how much are you looking at that, how much are you working with Nike on that to adjust your game for the future?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it'll be a simpler adjustment for me than most guys because my golf ball spins a little bit more than most of the other players'. So going to V-grooves, I wouldn't have a problem at all. Some of the other guys who play harder golf balls I think might have to make a bigger adjustment. I think the biggest adjustment to be made obviously as everyone can see is out of the rough.
You don't really hit fliers. A lot of times out of the first cut is when you can actually spin the ball more than out of the fairway. It'll be interesting to see how guys -- if the V-grooves gets passed or when it gets passed, how guys attack par-4s or short par-4s, par-5s, how aggressive they're going to get because now that spin has changed, especially at harder venues like a U.S. Open or some of the other tournaments that have made the greens much firmer, then what are they going to do? It'll be interesting to see strategy-wise how that changes.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've talked about it. We all have talked about it, but we're just basically waiting to see where it goes.
Q. I'm just curious how your clubs, maybe the shafts in particular, relate to some of the unique drills that you do? Or maybe they're not so unique, but in September before your match against Mike Weir at the Presidents Cup I noticed you out on the range, you were hitting these little shots with a long iron and with your arms kind of going out to the right and the ball was maybe going around 50, 60 yards. Can you tell us what you were trying to do perhaps and how the shafts can work into obviously a different kind of shot?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that was really nothing to have to do with the golf club; it was about my mechanics. Well, look at it this way: If you swing a golf club at let's say hypothetical 120 miles an hour and you slow it down to 50 miles an hour, how much easier is it to feel where each and every body part is when you drop it down over 50 percent in speed, and that's basically what I did. I tried to feel everything moving in the golf swing, where was I going wrong in the golf swing, try to pinpoint it so I could fix it and then exaggerate it a little bit.
That's one of the reasons why you saw me arcing it is because I couldn't quite draw the ball. So why try and fight a draw when you can hit a hook. I just hit big sweeping snap hooks for a little bit and get it organized, get me feeling that a little bit more, and then I can figure it out from there.
Q. Just one follow-up to that, over the years have you come up with a lot of the drills entirely on your own even away from some of the guys you've worked with? You have a whole bunch of different drills that you do that none of us ever even see?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I do, but a lot of that is understanding your own swing and how I need to fix it. I think that's -- you know, I really haven't changed the way I view how I should play the game of golf and how I can fix the game, fix my swing.
My depth of knowledge about my swing specifically has changed a lot, and I think that's one of the reasons why you see me doing certain drills now is because I understand how to fix it faster. If I do a certain drill I can fix my game faster and get me right back on where I just left off. That's turning those 73, 74, 75 rounds into 68s, 69s and 70s is understanding how to fix it immediately and keep you in the tournament, not to shoot yourself out of the tournament.
Q. You've talked about 120 and 50, which was kind of like the question I had because the 360 system to me seems the most important thing about today because trying to get the average golfer to understand that perhaps the Slingshot or the Sasquatch irons may be actually better for him than hitting a blade or hitting a cavity back, how important is it to try to get average golfers to play the right equipment?
TIGER WOODS: Well, ego (laughter). We all feel that we should swing with driver specifically, less loft, stiffer shafts than we ever should. I mean, how hard has it been to get people to switch to hybrids? It's all ego-based. Obviously if you can change that perception, I think that's when you start seeing improvement in your game.
But sometimes you need help. That's why we have the fitting system, to actually prove it to you that this is the way you need to go. It really is hard because a lot of people -- I remember last time we did a thing up in I guess Hawthorne, one of the guys grabbed a driver, I said, "What driver do you want to use?" I had two of them, one with an extra stiff shaft, one with a stiff shaft. He said, "extra stiff." Whatever. First drive he hits, he slices it off into the road. I mean, how can you miss an airport? But he missed the entire airport and sliced it on the road. I thought, maybe you'd want to go to a stiff shaft. It's proving it to them that's the biggest challenge.
Q. You've talked a lot about just how far Nike technology has come just in your career and how much the clubs have changed. Do you think we're getting to a point about where we need to be? Do you think that 10 or 15 years from now we'll still be talking about a football-shaped driver that is revolutionizing the game? Are we about where we need to be or do you still think there's a lot of work to be done?
TIGER WOODS: You know, that's a great question because if you would have asked me five years ago I thought we were getting pretty close to the limit then. But then all of a sudden we have these innovations that take us to another level and actually lead the industry down a certain path. I mean, that's -- I never would have foreseen that happening.
Even back in '99 and 2000, that transition, people thought that the wound ball was the way to go. Now here we are with a solid construction ball and no one has a wound golf ball anymore. That's within seven years, our entire industry has changed.
How is it going to be 15 years from now? I don't know, it'll be interesting to see where it goes because I never would have foreseen us going to, as a whole, going to a square-shaped driver other than what we've all been accustomed to, the pear-shaped driver look. Physics works, and anything to help people play better we're going to do.
KELLY TILGHMAN: All we know is 15 years from now, you will have an 11-wood. That will be the case, right?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, and it'll be sweet, too (laughter).
Q. You mentioned you brought feel to the equation and then all these numbers came to be. Do you have a specific example maybe of how those numbers helped to correct you with something or how your feel told you something and then the numbers gave you something totally different?
TIGER WOODS: Well, we can go back to drivers. If I hit a certain shot -- let's say if I want to hit one in play, and I hit kind of a low spinny fade or just kind of a low fade, I was always curious as to why sometimes this golf ball went further than I ever thought even a normal drive would. And then on the launch monitor I actually would launch it lower, I would take spin off, so I actually would hit a hotter golf ball. I never understood why. I would hit this low bullet out there, okay, cool, it went a lot further than it should have. Well, it's understanding that and how I can manipulate that spin with the driver and how to keep the ball in play, or how to take spin off with my 3-wood.
These things I never really understood. Wedges, for instance, I never knew why we're actually spinning the golf ball more out of the first cut of rough with these grooves than we do out of the fairway. Why is that? Obviously it shows it. The data shows why. You don't understand these things as a player, you just feel them and you see it, you understand it, you adapt to it. But it's nice to have knowledge that backs it up so you don't feel crazy. It's like, I'm doing things I really probably shouldn't do; why? Then all of a sudden you have an answer, and it's nice to have that answer, it really is.
It's comforting because down the stretch on Sunday, you can see a certain shot. If I hit it this way, it's going to do this. No surprises. We don't want any surprises out there on TOUR, no surprises. That's been great.
Q. Should there be a standardized ball?
TIGER WOODS: That's a great question. I don't see how we can get the entire industry to believe and go with that. There will be some serious fighting going on if that's the case. That's what separates us from all the other sports is that we have a lot more options. We'll see what happens. It could happen. Augusta has threatened to do it. But they just lengthened the golf course so we're playing from downtown Augusta. We'll see what happens down the road. If you asked me 15 years down the road, that might be the case, don't know.
Q. Would you be in favor?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't be against it if it was a spinny ball (laughter).
KELLY TILGHMAN: Thank you very much for your questions, and now for any questions about the driver and their capabilities, Tiger is going to perform a demonstration for us right now, so we invite all of you behind the tent to the practice tee and we will swing away.
TIGER WOODS: I spend more time with my 8-iron or my 4-iron before I move onto my woods. Other times I may spend more time with my woods because that may be something I just don't quite feel right that day. It's just all a feel thing, but I basically hit about the same amount of golf balls at the same amount of time. I warm up by hitting golf balls for probably 40 minutes just about on the clock every time.
KELLY TILGHMAN: It's been said that there is not a single shot you hit in competition or in warmup or practice where you're not trying to shape a shot. Is that true?
TIGER WOODS: I'm always trying to do something with it, yes. That may mean that I only shape it one yard-fade, one-yard draw, change it just a little bit, but I'm always trying to do something with it. I can't go out there and look at a flag and just hit it. I'm trying to place the golf ball to a certain area.
A lot of times they ask me the question, how many flags did you fire at today? Well, I fired at one. Why would you only fire at one flag? Well, I didn't say -- I may be firing six feet right or six feet left of the flag. That was my target, trying to give myself the best chance of making birdie and just in case have a little margin of error.
So it's kind of misleading.
Q. How much does Stevie have to do with things?
TIGER WOODS: A lot. He can call me off and make suggestions at any time. Complete autonomy and a great friendship that way. I have complete trust in what Stevie sees and what he has to say to me, and that's a trust that's been built over the years, which has been I think a huge advantage for me because I have another extra pair of eyes besides Hank out there.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Who are you today, are you a god, a 5-handicap?
TIGER WOODS: I feel like a 15 right now (laughter).
Q. Which club are we at right now?
TIGER WOODS: My 8-iron. Do you want to see any specific shots?
KELLY TILGHMAN: So right now the shot you're shaping, just a little baby draw?
TIGER WOODS: Right now I'm just holding a little fade against the wind. The first ones I was drawing it or letting the wind move it over. I'll go back to that again.
Q. When Ben Hogan hit the ball they said that it had a little different sound, that had a sound of its own. You also seem to have a little bit of sound of your own. Do you feel like you hit the ball, to use the expression, one percent thin? Do you think you hit it slightly thin?
TIGER WOODS: No. I know that certain guys do say that into the wind they want to hit the ball a little bit thinner. I don't do that. I basically will just change the loft through impact and do it that way. I hit it thin, yeah, but not on purpose.
Q. There's almost no divots at all with those irons you're hitting.
TIGER WOODS: There's not supposed to be too big a divot, is there? I guess if you hit it like this, that would be bad, wouldn't it (laughter)?
KELLY TILGHMAN: So what do we have now?
TIGER WOODS: I'm on my 4-iron here.
KELLY TILGHMAN: And what is the range of distance that you can control your 4-iron?
TIGER WOODS: I guess from there to 210 (laughter).
KELLY TILGHMAN: That's pretty good. How far are they going?
TIGER WOODS: Well, my normal 4-iron goes 210.
KELLY TILGHMAN: But you can work it as short as, what?
TIGER WOODS: What I feel comfortable doing in a tournament? I can bring it down to about 190, 185, depends on the softness of the greens, obviously the wind in your face.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: The one year you're mentioning at Cog Hill, that was different. That was my dad died and I played the U.S. Open, missed the cut miserably and hadn't really gotten back to playing golf again. After the first day I played terrible and was on the range, it was the first time that I felt that I had transitioned past dad's death, and that was a time where I felt -- I kept staying on the range because I enjoyed my practice session again. I enjoyed being out there and hitting balls late at night.
I was doing that at home, but it was hard. It was hard because all the fundamentals I always thought about was all related to dad. I had a hard time getting past that. After that U.S. Open performance it was just terrible, then played terrible on the first day at Cog, and then one night I had where I felt I let it all go, and I was back to playing golf again.
I just stayed out there. I could have easily been done an hour, hour and a half earlier. I felt completely fine with my swing. But I enjoyed it so much that I didn't want to leave. I just did not want to get off that range because I felt like how I had been prior to when dad got really sick.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: It changes day to day, shot to shot. I have certain key feels that I will do for certain shots, and you always kind of gravitate towards that.
Q. In your mind it's not your target, it's the ball flight?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I have a target where I want to place the golf ball. Now, how am I going to get it there? Therein lies the feel of your thoughts, the conditions, the wind, the lie, whatever it may be, the situation. That all -- it's complicated. I mean, it sounds so easy, you just hit the ball ten feet right of the hole. But it gets a little more complicated than that. I wish it was that simple.
Q. Does your grip pressure change?
TIGER WOODS: No, actually this is a great story because when I was defending -- I guess I was hosting The Masters dinner in '98 and I was at the head table with -- to my left was Mr. Nelson and to my right was Ben Crenshaw, and here we have our knives out, going through grip pressure and grips.
So Mr. Nelson is explaining, I had a grip like this in 1932 but in 1940-something I changed to this. And Crenshaw had a stronger grip, and he believed in having really light grip pressure so the club head would swing itself. Mr. Nelson said, I liked having a death grip on it. It has to be at least eight or nine out of ten. What do you think? What do you mean, what do I think? Here I am, 22 years old. I don't know a thing.
So it was pretty nice to have them obviously explaining it but also to ask my opinion. That was pretty cool. Just hit it hard and go find it and try to make every putt. That's what got me here to this room.
KELLY TILGHMAN: A lot of pros talk about the fact that there are about nine different trajectories that golfers strive for in warmup and on the golf course, different heights of the golf ball and different shapes, right to left, left to right and straight. What are the little tweaks that you make along the way to help you achieve those shots?
TIGER WOODS: Well, get more specific. What shot?
Q. Well, just going from a low fade to a low draw, or a low fade to a high draw, what are the tweaks that you would make?
TIGER WOODS: Low fade obviously you're going to swing a little left, I would come off my follow-through to hit a low fade. For a high draw I would try and feel an extension, more of an arcing out to the right like what Loren was seeing at the Presidents Cup this year. I'll hit both for you.
KELLY TILGHMAN: And why the cutoff finish?
TIGER WOODS: It allows the trajectory to come down. I swing a little left to obviously produce the fade spin but also cut off the follow-through to help keep the ball down. And then for a high draw try and have a longer follow-through, swing more out to the right, almost take a shoulder off right here (laughter).
KELLY TILGHMAN: And there have been a couple of shots in your career which are mindboggling, a couple of slices with fairway woods come to mind and also a couple of dramatic hook shots that you intended to hit obviously. The difference in those, please?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if you want to hit a big hook, I need some loft, so I'll go to a 7-iron. How about if I go from -- how about this orange flag here -- I'll actually go to my 8-iron since we're going to hook it a little bit more, and to that black flag over there in the corner.
KELLY TILGHMAN: So there's certain clubs you would not try this shot with on the golf course in competition.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I need loft obviously, putting so much hook spin on it. It will tend to fall out of the sky unless I have a little loft on it.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Are you ready to work your way up to the fairway wood?
TIGER WOODS: My new 5-wood actually, I'm going to try it out.
KELLY TILGHMAN: A sign of the times. You're in your 30s.
TIGER WOODS: Tell me about it. You want me to hit a slice? This is my agent's natural shot (laughter), a weak, dying slice.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: Both. You've got to have both. Our glove is my direct contact to the club. Obviously the shoes, the technology behind the shoes and this performance, try and keep you as stable as possible while meanwhile try and feel as light and as comfortable for however long you're going to be playing that day, that's huge.
I mean, think about the times when we used to play with big old heavy leather-soled shoes, and if there was any kind of dew or rain in the morning, how heavy those things felt. Now obviously with the new material and the stability track control you have on your shoes, they actually help perform instead of hinder your performance.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: Yep, he did.
Q. What about you?
TIGER WOODS: I'm a little bit longer than he is. I will play -- once they're broken in they feel great. Several months.
Q. Can we ask you about the stinger? You've developed it so well, and you use it.
TIGER WOODS: That one (hitting shot)?
TIGER WOODS: It's funny you say that because there's absolutely no difference between that shot I just hit with a 5-wood that low and to take a sand wedge out and hit that shot right there. They're exactly the same swing, just with a longer club.
It's about shortening up your follow-through, still need to turn behind it, still need to get back behind it, still need to let it go but let it go in a different way. A little more to it than people think.
Q. What's your favorite stat, GIR?
TIGER WOODS: My favorite stat this year? Seven wins (laughter).
KELLY TILGHMAN: Www.tigerwoods.com.
Go to your driver, fair warmup, no excuses.
Q. Do you still wear spikes?
TIGER WOODS: I do, yeah. My spikes I believe are six mls, not the old eight mls. Some guys -- there's two guys I know still play the long eight mls.
KELLY TILGHMAN: They call each other out.
TIGER WOODS: I was there, I saw it.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Can you tell us about your current driver and why it's so special to you as far as the specs of this driver? What are the specs of this driver?
TIGER WOODS: 45 inches, basically eight and a half degrees, and that's about it.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Why the eight and a half of trajectory?
TIGER WOODS: I can hit that shot right there, a little spinny cut, but also I can flatten it out and hit this little draw, too. So I have the ability to hit both.
KELLY TILGHMAN: You know, it's probably -- you get to tee it up, but it's one of the hardest clubs in the bag to hit and actually to work the ball with. Maybe you could work a little bit for us, hit some different shapes of the shots and maybe explain to us why the driver is so challenging in that aspect.
TIGER WOODS: Well, as technology has changed, the golf ball goes straighter, the club heads are designed to go straighter, you have to do more to work the golf ball. The question was asked, why don't you use a square. That's exactly why, I've got to change my swing so much to be able to work the golf ball, where I just hit two different shots right there without changing my swing too much.
I can hit a low one for you. Sometimes you just kind of hit a low bullet.
KELLY TILGHMAN: What adjustments do you make to do that, fall back?
TIGER WOODS: It depends on the shape. Like that one I just kind of hit straight so I kept my ball position the same. I probably hung my left side just a little bit more. Actually my release was extended all the way out. If I want to hit the ball a little bit higher --
KELLY TILGHMAN: Maybe like the shot at Doral at 16 not too long ago, high shot where you want it to sit on the green and hold.
TIGER WOODS: That one I've got to tee it up a little higher.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Do you want to recreate the follow-through for us, as well?
TIGER WOODS: No, I think I pulled a glute on that one, my neck was all jacked up. But it was pretty funny because Stevie was giving me so much crap about it because my follow-through was faster than my downswing. I'll kind of hit a version of it, how about that? Kind of sort of in that realm. I hit it a little bit harder then.
KELLY TILGHMAN: What kind of distance are you averaging right now with your current driver, 310-ish?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I feel comfortable carrying it 290 on a daily basis. Obviously being warm, you can obviously carry it a little bit further, but even in cold conditions I feel pretty comfortable with 290.
KELLY TILGHMAN: How much more can you gain with the newest technology that you haven't quite made the move yet?
TIGER WOODS: If I went to that driver, probably six to eight yards in the air.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Flirting with a 300 carry.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, consistently, day in and day out.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Which one do you have there?
TIGER WOODS: I've got this new one here, a little different grip.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Can you describe that sound for us?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a lot softer than K.J.'s. It's not as loud. As I said, it was a good and bad, and I think that's why we made the change, and now there's nothing but positive with this driver. We've made the adjustments and the consumers will love it even more than they had prior to this.
KELLY TILGHMAN: What does it feel like at impact? Not what does it sound like but what does it feel like? How different?
TIGER WOODS: It feels stable, like I hit that one in the heel a little bit, and it didn't really torque as much as my driver does. I don't feel the twisting. That's the beauty of it, too, is you don't get that -- you can hit so many places on this face and still hit the ball pretty straight.
Q. Are there courses on TOUR that that will be an advantage for?
TIGER WOODS: Well, they keep changing golf courses, making them longer, more doglegged. That's how you make a golf course longer, by the way, is actually making it more doglegged. They've angled tees a little bit differently, they're trying to make us play out away from doglegs instead of being able to cut corners, and just changing degrees adds 10, 15 yards without even doing much.
Yeah, the golf courses have changed so much. You know, 7,500 yards in major championships, that was unheard of, but now it's just about every major is that way except for British Open. We're playing basically all majors 7,400 plus. The game has changed. It's become -- you've got to hit the ball big now.
KELLY TILGHMAN: We saw how you were able to work your current driver, and you mentioned how it's a little bit more challenging with this one. Maybe try to work a couple shots for us so we can see the difference.
TIGER WOODS: Okay. In order to hit a fade with this one, I tee the ball down a little bit lower, and you'll really see -- you saw in my swing that it's arced, and the follow-through, what I'll try and do with a fade is actually try to arc it more to the left, hold the face off and try and get this thing to move a little left to right. It doesn't really move that much.
KELLY TILGHMAN: We've got a little right-to-left wind, as well.
TIGER WOODS: But it just doesn't move as much. That's the beauty of it. It doesn't move as much. It's going to go straighter. Those drivers I'm hitting right there are definitely going farther than mine.
KELLY TILGHMAN: So ideal for the consumer in that aspect?
TIGER WOODS: Fantastic, longer and straighter. Not a bad combo.
Q. Is it tougher to fade the square or draw the square?
TIGER WOODS: I think draw it because obviously it's going to take spin off the driver as it is, just with the driver and the way it's set up. Then you actually try and draw the ball, it's going to take actually even less spin. I'd say more spin off, so you're going to have less spin total, which means that to maneuver the golf ball from right to left you need to have spin to keep it in the air, and very little spin it's going to start falling out of the sky. That's one of the reasons I tee it up a little higher to draw that one.
Q. So what extent do you think developments in golf equipment have changed the way that people swing the golf club?
TIGER WOODS: I take a look at every win, yeah, there's no doubt, and try and see what -- everyone's body type is different, everyone has their own theory on how to swing the golf club. Just like I explained to everyone I always was taught by, will it work on the last round on the back nine. At my level now, will it work on the back nine on Sunday under the most pressure. If it doesn't work, I'm not doing it. What's the point? I don't really care to be Ranger Rick, hit it great out here and not be able to hit it a lick when I need it the most.
You need to be able to hit the ball on the back nine on Sunday of a major championship when everything is on the line. You can't afford to make a mistake. That's when you have to hit the best. If the technique that you're working on doesn't allow you to do that, then we've got a problem.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: That was about just over 90 I'd say.
KELLY TILGHMAN: You've never taken a 100 percent swing?
TIGER WOODS: No, no, I've found that if I try and get above 90 percent of what I'm capable of, I don't hit it solid every time. How do you hit it further? You've got to have more club head speed, yeah, but you've got to hit it flush. If you don't hit it flush, you're going to actually be hitting it shorter. That one I cranked up a little bit and I made sure that I was able to hit it flush. If I go beyond that, I take the risk of not being able to hit it solid.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah. Well, I just speed up my body, speed everything up. Don't forget, I used to play that way. I used to play all wedges that way. You know, I was great with a wedge from 150 (laughter), but it was like, you know, the 90-, 70-, 60-yard shots, that was hard. So for me to crank it up really isn't that much of a challenge compared to most people because I used to play that hard. It's like Davis, Davis used to hit the ball forever, big long swing. He can crank it up any time he wants.
Certain guys because they've had natural speed -- Charles Howell has got just a natural bunch of speed. For them, they crank it up, it's a lot easier than let's say like a Fred Funk. Freddie has a hard time adding two, three miles an hour in club head speed, and for certain guys that's really not that hard.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Which shaft do you have in the driver?
TIGER WOODS: This one is stock, but mine is a Diamana.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Talk about the importance of the shaft when it comes to controlling your drives.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I experimented with a bunch of graphite shafts. I went through a bunch of them to try and find that one that performed just like my X-100, and that was the trick is I didn't want to make different competitions going from my 2-iron to my -- at the time my 3-wood was still steel, so my 3-wood and my swing, I didn't want to make any compensations. I didn't want to feel a difference in my golf swing and the performance of my shaft, wanted one that performed like my X-100, and I finally found one and I've stuck with it ever since.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: Oh, yeah, a lot harder. I probably hit one driver off the deck a year. That's about it.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Have you tried these yet?
TIGER WOODS: I guess you're telling me to do it right now, huh?
KELLY TILGHMAN: Oh, no, always a question.
TIGER WOODS: See, not very good.
KELLY TILGHMAN: But when we talk about the distance control with a driver, that's as short as you want to hit it, right?
TIGER WOODS: See, the thing is I drove that one straight in the ground.
KELLY TILGHMAN: What are the challenges that that presents?
TIGER WOODS: Because the MOI is so far back and the fact that the CG is up, I'd have a hard time hitting one off the deck. When I hit my driver, because it does spin a little bit more than this, it is a little bit easier. But still, I have to make sure I hit a cut with it to make sure I get it in the air and really try to pick it clean, pick it thin. A lot of these drivers aren't really designed to be hit off the deck anymore. That's why the 3-woods are as big as they are and they go as far as they do.
Q. Did you always use the grip you're using now?
TIGER WOODS: No, I started off with a baseball grip when I was a little kid. When I was four years old my dad said, okay, there are different grips you can use besides your baseball grip. You can use interlock, which Jack Nicklaus used, or you can use the Varden, which Hogan and I use, he included himself, but for people that have short, stubby fingers interlock is a little bit better than Varden grip. And at the time, at four years old, short, stubby fingers, so I stuck with interlock grip. And then once I got accustomed to that -- I've tried to switch, but it just doesn't feel as solid and secure.
The funny thing is a lot of times when I'm just sitting around and I'm just chilling out, I just sit here like this and I just go right to the grip. I'm just sitting at a table, and this is just a natural grip. Anything going away from that would be very difficult for me.
But I do chip with all different grips, from a putting grip to a Varden grip to interlock to baseball grip. Depends on the chip and the shot.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Obviously which situations demand which grips.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, and that's just practice, which one works best for you.
Q. (No microphone.)
TIGER WOODS: That was interlock because I had to spin it and I had to get some angle to it and I had to get some speed. It worked out okay, actually.
KELLY TILGHMAN: As you're hitting that one, obviously you're just trying to hit a lot of straight shots, or are you just trying to work the ball?
TIGER WOODS: I'm not doing anything. It just goes straight.
KELLY TILGHMAN: What's the most you can work that club do you think? Obviously you can hit the dramatic hook if you wanted to try, but let's just see a shot where you're really having to work to shape it right to left.
TIGER WOODS: Right to left? Like 13 at Augusta?
KELLY TILGHMAN: Perfect.
TIGER WOODS: Big sweep (hitting shot).
KELLY TILGHMAN: Now what about 18?
TIGER WOODS: 18, I hit a low, peeling fade around the tree line on the left, peel it back, have a nice little 6-iron, 7-iron in there, hit it up there in the right bunker (laughter), good bunker shot, miss the putt, go into a playoff with DiMarco.
KELLY TILGHMAN: And how about No. 1?
TIGER WOODS: No. 1 is the same as 18. I'd hit a low fade off the tee, just get it to where I can see the green.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Go ahead and put your best swing on that golf ball, and as you swing away, I want to thank you for all of your time and your input today.
TIGER WOODS: You got it. Thanks for having me.
KELLY TILGHMAN: Thank you very much. Tiger Woods, ladies and gentlemen.
Hopefully you've gotten a great feel for the capability of this new equipment, but just like I had a chance to do right here, you're going to have a chance to get up close and personal with the new driver technology. We'll first invite you to join James and Gidge over in the left side of the practice area because they're going to introduce you to this Nike 360 fitting system, and you will learn all about what it can do, what it's capable of and your potential as far as fitting clubs best to your swing.
And stay tuned here because afterwards you're going to get to demonstrate the products as close to your specs as possible. Remember what they are, what you're going to learn from these guys. They're going to tell you what's best for your swing because at the end of the day Nike is going to give each and every one of you a brand new driver, and you'll be able to tell them exactly what you see, loft, lie angles. Thanks for coming out and enjoy your experience over at the Nike 360 fitting system. Thank you.
End of FastScripts